gerard

Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology
Columbia University

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Welcome! I am an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Columbia University and a member of the Data Science Institute. My research draws from the literatures on urban sociology, stratification, and criminology, and it focuses on understanding how the spatial organization of the American stratification system creates and reproduces inequalities. My current research agenda investigates (1) how the neighborhood context, particularly the experience of community violence, determines the life chances of children; (2) how social capital and social organization emerge and evolve in spatial contexts; and (3) how place and geography structure educational and economic opportunity in America and elsewhere. My work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Child Development, Demography, Eastern Economic Journal, Housing Policy Debate, the Journal of Housing Economics, the Journal of Urban Economics, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I received my PhD in Sociology from New York University in 2019, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2014, and a BS in Engineering from Polytechnic University of Catalonia in 2004.

 

News and Updates

• 07/2020: I started as an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Columbia University.
• 01/2020: My article “Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement Across School Districts in the United States” has been published in Demography.
• 07/2019: I started as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University’s Data Science Institute.

Recent Publications

Abstract: This study investigates the effect of violent crime on school district–level achievement in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The research design exploits variation in achievement and violent crime across 813 school districts in the United States and seven birth cohorts of children born between 1996 and 2002. The identification strategy leverages exogenous shocks to crime rates arising from the availability of federal funds to hire police officers in the local police departments where the school districts operate.

Eastern Economic Journal, 2020 (with Ingrid Ellen)

Abstract: Using restricted administrative data on the voucher program, we examine the experience of voucher holders in metropolitan areas with rising rents. While some of our models suggest that rising rents in metropolitan areas are associated with a slight increase in rent-to-income ratios among voucher holders, poor renters in general see significantly larger increases in rent-to-income ratios. We see little evidence that rising rents push voucher holders to worse neighborhoods, with voucher holders in central cities ending up in lower poverty neighborhoods as rents rise.
Abstract: The housing choice voucher program aims to reduce housing cost burdens as well as to enable recipients to move to a broader diversity of neighborhoods. Prior evidence shows voucher recipients still end up in neighborhoods with relatively high poverty rates and low performing schools. These constrained neighborhood choices can in part be attributed to landlord discrimination and the geographic concentration of units that rent below voucher caps. In this paper, we consider an additional explanation: the role of information and social influence in determining the effective set of potential housing choices.
Abstract: On the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, long-time residents of cities across the country feel increasingly anxious that they will be priced out of their homes and communities, as growing numbers of higher-income, college-educated households opt for downtown neighborhoods. These fears are particularly acute among black and Latino residents. Yet when looking through the lens of fair housing, gentrification also offers a potential opportunity, as the moves that higher-income, white households make into predominantly minority, lower-income neighborhoods are moves that help to integrate those neighborhoods, at least in the near term.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018 (with Laia Balcells)

Abstract: This study investigates the consequences of terrorist attacks for political behavior by leveraging a natural experiment in Spain. We study eight attacks against civilians, members of the military, and police officers perpetrated between 1989 and 1997 by Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), a Basque terrorist organization that was active between 1958 and 2011. We use nationally and regionally representative surveys that were being fielded when the attacks occurred to estimate the causal effect of terrorist violence on individuals’ intent to participate in democratic elections as well as on professed support for the incumbent party.